During the middle and late third century Roman republic era gave rise to the arena games and became a great phenomenon for the Romans. An amphitheater, also known as a coliseum, housed these dangerous games that potentially harmed the audience as well as those who participated in them. Gladiatorial combat originated as part of funerals for deceased influential Romans. These large gladiatorial games were held by emperors during funerals of important roman officials, but were also included during other occasions. Over time the connection among the gladiator games and funerals decreased, and the upper class put on the games mainly to raise their social standing and gain favor with the public. Many politicians held these highly known games to help them sway votes of power and popularity (Meijer 2003, 27). “The arena was the embodiment of the empire.” (Futrell 1997, 209). The contestants, or the gladiators, had more significance of the Roman Empire beyond that as their role of entertainment.
Alan Baker states in his book The Gladiator – The Secret History of Rome’s Warrior Slaves that, “attendance at the amphitheater was an essential part of being a Roman, a member of a powerful warrior state” (Baker 2000, 39). It is said that the Romans were known for their honor and glory as a reflection of the society they lived in. This may perhaps explain why the gladiator games were popular to the citizens, because the Romans enjoyed observing these characteristics throughout the battles. Most of the time the contestants were slaves, these individuals were bought and traded at the coliseum with the intentions of battling in these games until their death.
Soldiers that were captured at the end of a battle were chained to one another as they marched hundreds of miles back to Rome. Their certainty was something that was unknown; would they be sold to a roman citizen doing hard labor working in the mines or entertaining large crowds in the coliseum as a gladiator? They were typically forced into the roles of gladiators. Some were sentenced 'damnati ad gladium' meaning the soldiers were immediately condemned and put to death either by execution or forced to fight until their death in the games.
Slaves sold as gladiators were then handed over to a trainer – an older gladiator, whose fighting days are now over, trained them to become gladiators. These new recruits were heavily guarded and had little or no freedom. The kind of gladiator you would come to be was determined on a person’s ethnic background and their physique. Gladiators were not only slaves, but some men gave up their freedom to become gladiators. These “free gladiators” were either soldiers, or they were Romans of upper class who craved the fame and the glory that was given to the title of being a gladiator. Many soldiers valued the virtues that gladiators displayed; such as strength, courage, and quickness, because they could identify with those same virtues from their own...